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How to use Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that organisations can utilise to increase their visibility online and in Google search results.

Although there are many other ways to get your business to show up on Google’s first page, Google My Business should be considered as an effective part of a marketing plan. It gives you a say in what information is shared on Google about your business, a medium to interact with current and potential customers, and a proven system for optimising your reputation online.

This article is a best practice guide for arts and culture organisations who want to manage and optimise their Google My Business profile.

What is Google My Business?

It’s a free product that allows organisations and businesses to display important information. This includes basics like opening hours, reviews and contact details, but it’ll also list their location within Google Maps and Google Search Results. Through verifying and personalising a Google My Business profile, organisations can make it easier for audiences and customers to find them and grow their online visibility.

Notable stats:

Benefits of using Google My Business

  • Manage how your business is displayed throughout Google search results
  • Communicate and engage with your customers
  • Read and respond to customer reviews
  • Share essential information such as your opening hours, website, phone number and location (street address, service area or place marker, depending on your business).

How to create a new Google My Business listing

Before creating your new listing, consider the following:

  • Opening date: Google My Business listings can only be created for locations officially open for business
  • Website: the information on your website should match the information you plan to add to your listing
  • Duplication: it’s very easy to accidentally create multiple listings for the same location. To avoid this, check your Google account first, as it should be flagged. If a duplicate listing is created on your account, it may prevent the original listing from appearing
  • Listing owned by someone else: in cases such as when businesses or locations are bought or sold there may already be an existing business listing, To check this, search for the listing in the live search results and test multiple variations of location/listing name. If you find an existing listing for your location, an ownership request may be required.

Once you have confirmed there are no issues with the above, proceed with the step by step:

Step 1: Go to google.com/business and select “Manage now”.

Step 2: Log into the Google Account associated with your business.

Step 3: Type the name of your business. If your listing is already claimed and verified, you will need to request access. If you are creating a new listing, you’ll be able to continue to the next step.

Step 4: Enter your business name and business category (this is the industry you operate in).

Step 5: If you wish to add a location to your listing (recommended), select the “Yes” tick box. This location will show up on Google Maps and Search when customers are looking for your business.

 

New GMB Listing Instruction

Step 6: Enter your business address then click “Next”. If you serve customers outside this location, select the “Yes, I also serve them outside my location” tick box. You will then be able to specify your service area.

Google My Business Listing Set Up

Step 7: Add the contact details you want your customers to see.

  • Ensure the telephone number has the correct country code
  • We recommend adding a website URL which will point users to a landing page containing information about the store/location
  • We recommend including a ‘UTM tracking code’ added to the end of the website page URL. For example, www.example.com/london-office/utm_source=Places&utm_medium=Places&utm_campaign=Google+Places. This will help you better monitor traffic to your website from your Google My Business listing.

Set Up New GMB Listing

Step 8: To complete the new listing process, verify your listing over the phone. Google will call the number you provided and provide a 6-digit verification code.

How to verify your GMB listing on Google

Failing to verify your business listing damages Google’s confidence in your location and status as a legitimate business. It reduces your visibility in search and increases the likelihood of other businesses showing up in search for your brand name. Fortunately verifying your listing in a straightforward process and can be done by postcard, phone, email, and a method called Instant Verification.

Postcard Verification

Postcard verification proves you operate from a business address by requiring you submit a five-digit code from a postcard, sent to the location.

Step 1: If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step. If not, sign in and choose the listing you want to verify.

Step 2: Make sure your business address is correct. Alternatively, you can add a contact name to whom the postcard will be addressed.

Verify GMB Listening

Step 3: After clicking “Mail”, your postcard should reach the business address within five days. In the meantime, make sure not to edit the listings details (business name, address, or category) before your postcard has been delivered as this could delay the process.

Step 4: A postcard will be delivered to the place of business and it will contain a five-digit verification code.

Step 5: Once you’ve received the postcard log into Google My Business. If you have more than one business location, select the location you want to verify. If you only have one, select “Verify now”. Within the Code field, submit your five-digit verification code.

In instances where your postcard is lost or doesn’t arrive, request a new code by signing into Google My business and clicking the “Request another code” blue banner at the top of your screen.

Phone verification

If your account is eligible for phone verification, you’ll see a “Verify by phone” option when you start the verification process.

Step 1: If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step. If not, sign in and choose the listing you want to verify.

Step 2: Make sure the phone number is correct, then choose “Verify by phone”.

Step 3: Enter the verification code that you received within your text message and submit.

Email verification

Some businesses can verify their locations by email. If your account is eligible for email verification, you’ll see a “Verify by email” option when you start the verification process.

Step 1: If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step. If not, sign in and choose the listing you want to verify.

Step 2: Make sure the email address that you provided for your business is correct, then choose “Verify by email.”

Step 3: Go to your inbox, open the email from Google My Business, and click the verification button in the email.

Instant verification

If your business is already verified within Google Search Console, you will not require any further steps to verify your Google My Business Location. If this has been enabled, you will be able to create new listings and they will not require any further steps to verify them. This method of verification is performed by connecting Google Search Console with the Google My Business account. As some business categories aren’t eligible for instant verification, if you don’t receive an email asking you to verify your listing, you’ll have to use an alternative verification method.

Step 1: Simply, sign into Google My Business with the same account used to verify your Search Console.

Best practice for Google My Business

Now that you’ve verified your business, it’s time to optimise and make sure you get the most out of it:

    1. Reviews are the most important ranking factor for local search and the best ways for customers to engage with your business. Reviews help your listing and website become more visible in search and make your business more trustworthy. You should ask your customers for reviews, show your customers how to leave reviews when needed, and respond to all your current ones (including negative reviews).
      GMB Reviews
    2. Add as much information and media as you can and keep this information up to date. Consider the areas you serve, hours you operate in, and other attributes such as “free Wi-Fi” and “wheelchair accessible”. As anyone can ‘suggest an edit’ to your listing, we recommend getting everything right the first time.
      GMB Useful Information
    3. Where possible and natural, use the keywords you want to be visible for within your business information. This will increase the likelihood of your business being visible for these terms in Google Search results (this is also known as improving SEO).
      GMB Keyword Optimisation
    4. Businesses with photos are more likely to receive requests for driving directions to their location (as well as clicks through to their websites) than businesses without photos. Your logo helps customers recognise your business on Google, the cover photo sits at the top of your profile representing your business, and additional business photos highlight key features about your business to inform and attract customers. Consider photos of your exterior, interior, most popular products and services, common areas, and your team when putting this into practice.
      GMB Image Use
    5. Uploading videos allows businesses to promote themselves in a more engaging format. Videos show up within search results and help you raise awareness, stand out, and communicate with potential customers in a more personal way.
      GMB Video Use
    6. Create posts to share information and updates. These posts are visible through the ‘Updates’ or ‘Overview’ tabs of the Business Profile on mobiles, and the ‘From the Owner’ section of the Business Profile on your computer on Search and Maps. Posts on Google My Business can hold tremendous value for organisations with the ability to advertise your brand, products, sales, specials, news, events, and offers – for free.
      GMB Posting Updates

How to close or remove a GMB listing

If you wish to close or delete a Google My Business listing, consider the following:

  • The closing date: a listing should only be closed once the location is officially closed for business.
  • If you’d like the listing removed from the account or permanently closed: follow the specific steps for closing a listing to ensure users are given the right information. In many instances, people are unaware of the closed location and continue to search for it.

Once you have confirmed the above proceed with the following steps:

Step 1: Log into the Google Account associated with the client account. Go to google.com/business and select “Manage now”.

Step 2: Select ‘Businesses’ in the Navigation Menu and locate the listing:

GMB Listing Instructions

Step 3: Select the listing you’d like to modify in the table view, click the “Actions” button, and select the action you’d like to take. Choose from temporarily closing your listing, permanently closing your listing, or removing the business.

If a business location is closing, select ‘Permanently Closed’. Only select ‘Remove Business’ if the listing was created in error. This will ensure that users in search are presented the correct information about your business location.

Permanently closed businesses still appear on Google, but with reduced visibility. You can reopen businesses if needed.

Removing businesses from your account:

  • Some business information (name, address, etc.) will still appear on Google Maps, Search, and elsewhere on Google
  • Any Google My Business content (website links, posts, photos, videos, etc.) for the businesses will be deleted
  • Associated AdWords ads will become inactive
  • The businesses will be removed for anyone else who manages them
  • Data for removed businesses can’t be recovered

Step 4: After your selected action is completed, go back to the listing via search to confirm that it has now been marked as ‘Permanently Closed’ (If removing a listing perform the same check to confirm). It can take time for the live listings to be updated, but typically this is instant.

Permanently Closed GMB Listing

Step 5: On selecting ‘Finish’ you may be automatically directed to the ‘Verification’ process. Find the step by step on how to verify a listing in the following section.

What next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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